Surfacing With Pearls

As a high-energy, firstborn, Capricorn, first-generation American with that immigrant mentality of working hard and growing up with a solid dose of the good ol’ Protestant work ethic, I have struggled with shifting from Doing to Being. To allowing things to take their natural course of fruition instead of feeling like I need to work harder to make things happen.

There are so many metaphors out there of how we destroy the very thing we are trying to grow by forcing it. For example,
the metaphor of blowing on the butterfly’s wings as it’s emerging from the chrysalis and killing it in the process.
Or, as is evident in one of my friends who has her own business. She has been wondering why she’s not getting more traction when she works six days a week, 18 hours a day. It’s clear to everyone around her that if she just relaxed a bit, she’d get better results, but she just keeps pushing on.
Years ago, when I was a parent educator, we talked about how it was important not to give something for your child to fight against, to push against. Allowing things to unfold as they naturally will has more power, time and again.

So, then I arrived at a crossroads in my life’s work, wondering, where is this going to take me? My knee-jerk response was to quick, do something!! But I was not so easily tricked this time! Instead of rushing off to “make something,” I stopped to listen. I went inward and did all those super-ninja spiritual and personal development tricks I teach all the time. I meditated, journaled, and relaxed into a season of quiet where I listened deeply.

There were times I felt lost in that Quiet, when I thought, “What the hell am I doing?” But gently, I would turn like the tide and rest in knowing I was just where I was supposed to be.

The one thing I did was stick like Gorilla Glue to my spiritual practices. I did not get out of bed before I did my affirmations, read my books, meditated, and journaled. And, I did not touch my phone or computer before I finished all of the above. I felt like I just needed to be on my side, like a dear friend would be. Cheering for me, consistently doing those little things that mean so much. When I felt scared or down, I would listen to or read inspirational material that I knew would get me back on track. You can’t will yourself to be positive. “I’m going to be happy dammit!” It has to be an inside job.

I listened to music that was positive, spent time outside, wrote lists of what I was grateful for. Anything I could get my hands on to keep me joyful.

And when I would feel the constriction of wory, like the metaphor for when we are meditating and we get Monkey-Brain, we are instructed to allow those thoughts to pass by as if we are on the river bank watching the occasional boat move by. “Goodbye thought, thanks for passing through.”

I knew my positive outlook, my trusting that it will all work out for the best, was what was going to be my path to the breakthrough.

This called for a level of trust deeper than what I have beckoned to before. During this season of rest and rejuvenation, I surfaced with pearls.

I came to understand my worthiness at a whole new level and an ability to feel secure in it. If I am worthy to give to others, and they are worthy and enjoy receiving from me, it is a short step to me being worthy. I could make that step.

I came to a new understanding of vulnerability and that I don’t need to feel vulnerable unless I am giving my power away to someone. Nope, not going to give away my power. I can be honest, loving, and wide open, but it’s fear that makes us vulnerable. I realized I could stay on the positive side of that equation: deep sharing without fear. This also calls me to a deeper level of honesty, with myself and others with whom I’m in relationship.

And, speaking of relationships, just like the de-clutter movement that says you should look at your possessions and ask if it brings you joy, well, I think that is a version of what we can do with our relationships too. Is this relationship bringing me joy? Now, I’m not saying we can be all joy all the time, but if there is a relationship that drains me and drags me down, or has no value, I have to ask myself, why? Why am I sticking around?

I learned to trust God/Spirit/the Universe at a new level (yet again! Geez!) And, as a recovering people-pleaser and Doer, I am learning what My Desires are and how to live into them. Not bad work! Of course, these issues have been bubbling below the surface for years, and like water’s affect on rocks, the layers are being swept away and the Truth is surfacing.

Photo and content © Copyright 2019. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

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I Am Not Fine

I am not fine.

A long time ago, I told my partner that if he asked me how I am and I say, “Fine,” he’d know there was something really wrong.

I gave up answering that question with that response many years ago. I was going through a particularly hellish time in life and I realized somewhere along the way that when people would ask me how I was, I would suddenly muster all my strength, put on a fake smile, try to look strong, and say, “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?”

I didn’t want to burden anyone with my troubles. I figured, everyone sits by a pool of tears. Everyone has their issues and struggles. Why would I burden them with mine? I didn’t want to be a bother.

I also did not want to burst the bubble of being “the strong one” or “the bubbly, positive one.” Trying to keep up the facade added an additional burden to the painful times I was going through. I walked a long road to finally figure out it’s okay to have hard feelings and it’s even better to be in touch with them and be honest.

And, while I was getting real with myself, I also came to understand that I answered in that way because I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t want anyone to know the Crazyville that I was living in.

But when we keep saying, “I’m fine,” and are covering over what’s really there, we can lose touch with our real feelings. We can’t properly tell someone else our emotions or process them if we don’t actually know what they are.

So I decided to get honest with myself and others. I might not divulge everything that’s going on, but if I’m having a hard time, I’ll say something like, “It’s been a little rough, but I’m here.” Or “I’m exhausted” or something else that at least touches on the truth of it if that is not the time to unpack everything going on.

During that time, I also realized that I would say “I’m fine,” when I was really being a bit masochistic, sacrificing my own needs and desires for that of someone else’s.

I’d say something like, “I’m fine. You can take vacation during that week. It’s my son’s graduation, but I’ll just take a red-eye to get there and back.”

What I meant when I said, “I’m fine,” would often be:
I’m dying inside.
I’m giving up.
I no longer have the strength and the will to fight.

I saw that “I’m fine” masks what I really wanted to say. The worst part is that when we do this we start to convince ourselves that we’re okay with not having the thing we actually really want, so we give up on having it, on hoping for it or something better. We are giving up on our hopes, dreams, and our Truth. We are saying that our wants, needs, and desires are not important and we should do without. This is a slow death.
More recently, I realized that Fine has another layer for me. I’ve been working to tease out the difference between being at peace and being neutral about something. Neutral to me equals Fine; Fine is that place where the passion, the emotion, the desire, the gusto is gone.

The reason this is an issue is that for years I told myself I was fine with making do. I know sometimes we need to make sacrifices for a larger cause. But what I’m dissecting here is that status quo of just getting by, of shutting off what calls to you.

Last fall I was flying home from leading a workshop and had finished my book, but had another two hours till we landed. I thought, okay, I’ll check out the TV options on the flight. I scrolled around and landed on the International House Hunters show. In this episode, they were helping people find their “dream home.” There was a woman who walked into a home and started to cry because it was so beautiful and perfect. She and her husband bought the house.

This struck me!

I thought: Wow, you mean you can have your dreams come true? You don’t have to make do with Fine in all areas of life?! (Mind Blown!)

I hadn’t even realized that I had put so much of myself into dormancy.

I think it’s my responsibility to live my life in the exhilarating intersection where my gifts meet the world’s needs, where I am living in alignment with my my truth. And that is an amazing, joyful, exuberant place to be. It is far, far away from Fine!

We are given dreams, desires, passions for a reason and, I believe we are meant to be happy. So I took this aha moment to heart as a wake up call to not settle for Fine, but to love into my life more and be a testament to Joy instead of Fine.

Photo and content © Copyright 2019. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

One Thing At A Time

ant

“Just focus on one thing at a time. The data clearly shows that we can’t multitask and do things well. Just do one thing and do it well.”

Lordy, I’ve been telling my clients this for years. Heck, I’ve been telling myself this for years! And it is such strong, beneficial advice. And it’s true that we can’t multitask without losing like 37% of our brain’s bandwidth! (According to the American Psychological Association) No wonder we feel scattered!

But how do we do this?

I recently had those tiny little ants crop up in my house. Again.

This is not the first time they have appeared, so I wondered to myself, what is the Universe trying to get me to pay attention to? What do ants make me think of?

Well, they are busy. They are super busy, but each one has one duty and that’s why they are so effective! For instance, the queen does one thing: lay eggs. That’s it. She is not foraging for food or anything else. The survival of the colony depends on her doing her one thing.

But, as a human, I often struggle with the how. How do I tend to the different aspects of life that I want to nourish?

There’s the physical part: Am I getting my walk or hike in today? Do I have healthy, yummy food in the house to eat? Have I gone food shopping for that food?

There’s the spiritual aspect: Am I meditating? Am I feeding and being fed by my spiritual community? Am I going to Meetng? Am I involved in the life of the Meeting?

There’s the social part: Am I tending to my friendships that feed me? Am I involved in the life of my community and building it?

You get the point. There are so many facets to a healthy life that need tending. How does one balance them all? If one is out of whack, they all are. If I am working out like crazy and eating great food, but I am not in a job where I feel valued, that is going to affect me in all the other areas.

So how do we balance it all out?

I am no expert, but I suspect at least part of the answer is time, space, and presence.

To not fill my schedule so full that I am constantly chasing time, so there is space in my calendar to just be and to allow myself to hear that still, small voice from within that is always guiding me. And, in doing one thing at a time, I can be fully present to it and do that one thing well.

Thank you little ants, for the reminder that a mountain can only be climbed one step at a time. And, the call to relish that step, and the next one, and the next is what life is about.

Photo and content © Copyright 2018. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Gifts Hidden Beneath

2014-12-02 12.03.32It’s a rainy December day, gray and still. As I adjusted the plants in my son’s room, trying to give them enough slanted winter light, my attention was pulled to the creek below our house. The serpentine curves are wide and full of this winter rain. There is even a little white ripple in the normally meandering flow.

We recently moved, so this is the first fall and early winter we’ve experienced here. When we moved in, the woods were thick and lush. When my son opened his shades the other day he said, “How did I not even know there was a creek below my window?”(It could be because he is a teen and doesn’t open his shades all that often.) Regardless, this is one of the blessings of this season. This part of the earth has shed what’s extraneous at this point. It is stripped naked and in traveling lighter more of what’s beneath becomes clear.

Last night I had a glass of wine whose brand boasts of not being encumbered by the oaken aging process. Here too, traveling simply without losing one’s delicious essence is illustrated.

I’ve often thought of autumn’s gift as the symbol of letting go, of releasing what is no longer needed. I thought the traveling light was the gift, but now I see that is just part of it. In letting go of what is carried we’re not just lighter, but we can see more deeply what has been hidden. What gifts are laying fallow, waiting to be seen and brought into service?

Photo and content © Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Interrupted

cropped love to infinityI was out to brunch with a friend the other day. We were talking about something I felt to be important. My friend had just shared and I was responding with my thoughts. In the middle of my sentence my friend said, “Oh my gosh, wait a minute. I just figured out what to do with blah, blah, blah,” a subject totally off topic.

Hurt and feelings of not being respected or cared for rushed over me. I emotionally withdrew immediately, as if I had touched a hot stove.

My friend quickly apologized profusely. It took me a minute or two, but I worked my way back to open hearted again. I was happy because this has been an “issue” for me in the past. Getting my feelings hurt after being interrupted and taking a while to recover have both been recurring themes. It’s all wrapped up in worthiness.

What happened differently this time is that I recently read about Byron Katie’s “The Work.” I asked myself if it was true that my friend interrupting me was a sign of her not caring, not respecting, and not loving me. No, I couldn’t say that any of that was true. The next internal question was, how do I feel and act when I believe it’s true. Well that was evident, and it felt like crap. How would I feel if I didn’t believe that junk? I’d just let it slide, comfortable in my worth and knowing that I’ve done the exact thing to others and it wasn’t necessarily because I didn’t care or wasn’t listening.

This all helped to shift perspective, but the clincher was that I then emotionally went to a place where I remembered how loved I am by the Universe. There is so much love out there for each of us, simply because we exist. I don’t need to get wrapped up in whether or not someone’s actions step on my toes and hurt my feelings. Now granted, this was a minor issue. It wasn’t like she beat me or something, but it was a baby step forward in feeling how beloved we all are and the Divine Nature that resides in us all. And for that, I am so grateful.

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

From Independence to Peace

2014-07-04 13.06.58It’s July 4 and the morning blessed us with cool temperatures (70s), low humidity, and clear blue skies. The past week has been full of high 90s, higher heat indexes, and unhealthy air, but a large storm came through yesterday evening and blew the stifling weather away. Thus far we are blissfully independent of our air conditioners!

I am filled with gratitude and not just for the weather, which is magnificent. This morning finds me in one of my favorite places, the back porch. I watch the woods inhale–all the leaves rise, pause, and swoosh their communal exhale. The sound of the forest breathing, birdsong, and the lack of air or car traffic is delicious bounty. The sun beams down through a skylight, spotlighting particles that float through the screens in a wave toward the other side of the porch. This catches my attention. The porch stands strong and supportive, allowing her inhabitants to take part in the beauty of being in and among the trees, 40-50 feet up, but she doesn’t need to hold onto the little stuff. Ahh, more independence. She lets it just flow through her. She stands up for the big stuff, the important things, but lets go the little flotsam that we can get gunked up with as we hold tight. This is perhaps the non-dependence on trying to control everything, living without fixating on those things that don’t really matter.

Thank you, Gentle Reminder, for showing me the way to Peace.

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Getting Rid of What You Don’t Need

2014-06-27 10.18.06I was at the kitchen sink doing dishes on a perfectly still morning when I heard a crashing sound out back. I looked up and saw a 15-20 foot branch tumbling down from a poplar tree. I went out on the porch to look more closely and what struck me as strange was that the branch looked perfectly healthy. There was even a totally dead branch still holding on to the tree just below where the healthy looking one had been living. I wondered why the dead one clung on, while the green, leafy one took a dive.

A few days later I was working on the back porch and it happened again. A large branch came tumbling down for no apparent reason. I wondered what is going on here! I’ve not seen this before and now it happens twice in the span of about 5 days?!

My friend’s husband is an arborist, so we asked him. He said this is not uncommon. There can be some past injury that makes the limb drop.

This made me think that we all carry around old stuff that no longer lives for us. Maybe they are memories, maybe they are old habits, but they are pretty benign.

Then there are the old injuries that we’ve covered over, we look healthy on the outside, but the fractures are there underneath. We can’t keep faking it. Eventually we need to shed those parts of us in order to move on in healthier ways.

It seems like this is a more complex aspect of letting go of what doesn’t serve me. It’s not just ridding myself of the obvious stuff (a negative relationship, drinking too much diet soda, whatever the case may be). It’s opening my eyes to what I’ve covered over, maybe I don’t even realize it’s there and unhealthy. It’s a part of my shadow work, admitting to myself that this is not only a part of me, but one I need to jettison. For example, perhaps I don’t think I’m trying to be right, but maybe I need to admit that I’m not really trying to help the other person, I just want them to do it my way. It’s ugly, but life is too short to carry around excess baggage. In traveling light we can reach to great heights.

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.